Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (Mission Carmel)

Mission Carmel is the second mission to be established after San Diego, but this would be the most popular of all the 21 missions. As one writer aptly puts it, "Warm and mellow as fine old brandy, Carmel mission casts a mystic spell on visitors. Perhaps it's the interplay of contrasts and harmonies.....green mountains and blue sea, rough sandstone church with lush garden, darting swallows and sonorous, full-skirted bells."

It is also my favorite of all the ones I have seen and the one I've visited the most times, four if my counting is correct. Even before I knew that this church one of 21, I already knew that it is a must-see stop when visiting the Monterey/Carmel area.

It is a beautiful church. The designer Manuel Ruiz built with a feeling for beauty - demonstrated by charming bell towers of uneven size, one with Moorish dome, the stone catenary arches, a vaulted ceiling, the unique star window over the front doorway.

Father Junipero Serra who was the Presidente of the chain of missions died here in 1784 and was buried under the sanctuary floor.

Father Serra was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. This bit of information caught me by surprise because it was never mentioned in any of the missions that I have visited.

1770 - June 3. Founded by Serra at Presidio, Monterey. Second mission. Moved to Carmel the following year. Named for St. Charles Borromeo, Cardinal, 16th century.

1791 - Present church begun under Presidente-Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen.

1797 - Dedicated.

1770 - 1803 - Mission chain headquarters.

1834 - Secularized.

1859 - Returned to Catholic Church.

Mission Carmel has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.

It is also an active parish church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Monterey.

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Moorish facade.
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Abalone shells decorate the cemetery. These are new addition since they weren't here a few years ago.
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Here lies Fray Junipero Serra.
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The living room in the old days - at the museum.
A big courtyard with the cross and the fountain.
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And when we ended our tour and browsed the items at the gift shop we met the resident (visitor) cat. The lady who works there gets daily visits from this furry friend. The four-legged delight feels at home inside the gift shop, although she's not actually allowed to be there. The lady puts her out after this shot. BTW, she feeds "it" that's why "it" keeps going back.

The cat tried to go back into the gift shop many times afterward. But the lady wouldn't hear of it. This kitty is friendly and so adorable.

She's adept at going under cars in the parking lot.


  1. I haven't seen all the missions, but this one is my favorite so far. You did a great job capturing its beautiful architecture, gardens, and cat!

  2. The place surely looks marvelous! I especially like the garden. It looks serene, almost reflective in its own right.

  3. The missions in California are so lovely. You are lucky to be able to visit them as often as you do.

  4. this is such a beauitful place. Even the cemetery looks pretty. I want to be buried here. :)

  5. Having lived in California for 12 years, Maria, when our kids were young, I wish I had taken the time to visit all the missions! Sigh. Maybe one time I'll have the chance to go back. In the meantime, THANK YOU for these lovely tours that both whet and appease my appetite.

  6. What a place so full of beauty and grace!


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